If Cat’s Eyes self-titled debut was grown in the dark, then ‘Treasure House’, their second, is born in light. If the nocturnal interiors of ‘Cat’s Eyes’ were a cult flick viewed in smudgy black and white on cathode ray, then ‘Treasure House’ takes everything into the great outdoors and shoots it in Technicolor on wide silver-screen; an old school blockbuster, of the kind they no longer make.
It might be that composing the soundtrack for Peter Strickland’s ‘The Duke of Burgundy’ last year – for which the first-time film composers were awarded Best Composer at the European Film Awards – awakened in the duo of Rachel Zeffira and Faris Badwan a whole new world of possibilities. It is doubtless a product of the potent sense of location – specifically the deserted town in Canada where Rachel grew up - but everything about ‘Treasure House’ feels cinematic. The arrangements are lush and expansive, the touch deft and the drama high. The whole of ‘Treasure House’ is pervaded by a sumptuous sense of class.
One thing that has developed but not fundamentally changed about Cat’s Eyes, however, is the subject matter, which is almost singly about the private world of the two protagonists - it is clear we are eavesdropping on a secret society of two.
In ‘Drag’, well-intentioned girlfriends try and talk our heroine out of a bad relationship, whilst ‘Names on The Mountain’ describes how teenagers leaving the Canadian backwoods traditionally paint their names on the rocks above town. ‘Everything Moves Towards the Sun’ is the musical equivalent of counting backwards before going under on morphine, and ‘Be Careful Where You Park Your Car’ serves as a salutary warning to love-rats everywhere, whilst ‘Chameleon Queen’ is a stately, neo-classical parade through the sumptuous interiors of empty, gilded lives.
There’s plenty more exquisite jewels to be found within this ‘Treasure House’: theramins that merge with Rachel’s (in)human voice, French horns, cor anglais, oboes, harps, organs, mellotrons, tubas, flutes and so much more. By the closing ‘Teardrops’, with its piano like a flowing stream, the journey from darkness to light, from monochrome to colour, is complete. Rachel and Faris have gone outside and the view is breathtaking.